And it wasn't only out-of-town vendors that took big hits- some hotels and motels in the city limits reported occupancies down over 40 percent from the previous year. Even the local grocery and liquor stores said their sales paled in comparison to the usual foot traffic from the bike rallies. And according to Yvone Picco, Part owner and night manage of Pier 14 Restaurant and Lounge, a business that once thrived off of Bike Week, the dining room sat desolate. "I have been in this business for 16 and we knew it would be bad, but we were very disappointed, no one showed up. We were off by 50-60 perecent. Typically we sell more top shelf liquor, and steak and lobster dinners during Bike week. Bike Week is our highend week of the year.
And just when we thought it couldn't get any worse, enter a new villain the South Carolina DMV. Evidently, there is a state law in South Carolina that forbids sales of anything with a VIN numbers on it, except RV's at rallys. All the local dealers are aware of it, but it has never been enforced at Bike Week...until now. "According to state law, only manufacturers are actually allowed to sell motorcycles at bike rallys, and even they have to rent a building to do it," stated Sonny Morabito of Xtreme Customs and Cycles of Simpsonville, South Carolina. "Dealers like us are actually only suppose to be able to display bikes...that's it." The South Carolina DMV accompanied by the State Highway Patrol issued $500 tickets to any dealer selling bikes. American Biker out of Charleston, Bourget and Cycle City out of Tennesee, and Boss Hoss - all set up at the Hooters on U.S. Highway 17 were among the first victims. A few dealers decided to just pay the tickets, as they figured they could make it up in profits. But after two $500 tickets, they take you to jail with a $5,000 bond.
So are the days of bike builders and dealers being able to sell their bikes soon to be a distant memory? Richard Morabito of Xtreme Cycles told me about one last chance in the works. "They are working on a federal law to get motorcycles classified as a recreational vehicle. RVs can be sold anywhere, such as boats, ATVs, and those huge motorhomes."
A Mayor In The Dog House?
Is there hope for Myrtle Beach Bike week? Well Donnie and a strong group of supporters sure do think so. As Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes term nears it end and the possibility of re-election looms over head, Donnie and his friends have organized a group called Help Eliminate Lousy Politicians (HELP) and have been selling HELP t-shirts all over the beach to raise campaign funds for Donnie. There are currently three seats open on the City Council but now Donnie's friends want him to run for Mayor. Donnie confirmed that this is a serious venture and he's out to do whatever he can to do what's best for the city, its residents, and business owners. For more information, visit www.helpformyrtlebeach.com.